It’s March 2001 and …


It’s Monday 5th and the End of an Era

Basil - at Christmas 2000Basil – at Christmas 2000 This week marked the end of Basil’s time in the valley. After 18 years in the Luangwa Valley, Basil has left us to marry Beats (former mobile caterer) and begin a new life in Australia. Basil has been with Robin and Jo for seven years as workshop manager keeping a fleet of 16 Land Cruisers and 2 trucks on the road and in good condition – not an easy job! Bas’ humour, laugh and beer drinking skills will no doubt go down in Valley history and he will be sorely missed by us. A few ex RPS staff will be joining him on 4 April for his wedding, unfortunately we can’t all make it out there. We wish Beats and Basil lots of happiness for the future. In true valley style, we through a farewell party for him here at Nkwali on Thursday night – and what a turn out! Starting with the customary sundowners we continued partying through the night. Bas left us the following morning with a very sore head! We wish Beats and Basil lots of happiness for the future. The kitchen gardenThe kitchen garden Jo has spent a lot of time in the veggie garden over the past week. She is working with the gardeners, Shadrack and Kenneth, to plan and prepare for the coming season’s planting. The long process of making compost from last years fallen Sausage Tree leaves has paid off and we have some wonderful mulch to prepare the new beds with. Seeds have been planted in the nursery beds and should be ready for transplanting in a number of weeks. The veggie garden has been such a success so far and is commented on frequently by our guests – it is well worth it have all those lovely fresh herbs, fruits and veggies. Elephants at Nkwali - in the dry seasonElephants at Nkwali – in the dry season After weeks and weeks without any elephant coming through camp – they are back. With the bush so green and lush they don’t seem to need our comberetum as much at this time of year as they do during the dry season. The large tail-less male has been in camp almost every night this week – he is one of the biggest males we see in the area and has magnificent tusks. I find it rather comforting to wake up to the sound of him chewing on branches nearby.

Until next week
Take Care
Jane

It’s Monday 12th and the North Luangwa!

Jo and Robin have for years contemplated the idea of setting up an operation in the North Luangwa National Park but have resisted and decided to concentrate on consolidating their existing camps in the South Luanwga. It is an incredible part of Zambia, however. More remote than the South Luangwa, the North Luangwa has until recently hosted only two safari operations.
This year Rod & Guz (who previously ran Mwaleshi Camp) are setting up their own camp to be called Kutandala – meaning place of the stars in Nyanja. The camp will be situated 32km upstream of Mwaleshi Camp on the edge of the river. The design of the camp will be rustic, with four grass, pole and thatch ensuite chalets and meals will be eaten under the stars. They will have a vehicle for transfers to and from the airstrip at Marula Puku and for the occasional game drive, however the main activity is walking.
One of the highlights of this area is trip to the Mwaleshi Waterfalls – a days walking led by Rod, a swim in the pool at the base of the falls and a delicious picnic prepared by Guz. Those of you who know Rod will agree that he is one of best guides in Zambia, his knowledge is outstanding and we believe that together he and Guz will run an excellent operation.
We have put together a few trips to incorporate Kutandala for this season. They will run on a set departure basis, starting with a couple of nights at Nkwali, 5 nights at Kutandala and then ending with a few nights at either Tena Tena or Nsefu to end. These trips will make the perfect alternative to the mobile safaris. Please contact your agent for further details.

Thank you for all the positive feedback on our new website. Statistics show that the most popular page is It’s Monday – if you don’t already visit this page – please do. Every week It’s Monday is published here with photographs.

 

Elephants by the river bank As the rain lets up a little, the Ellies have started coming through camp again. There is herd of 8 females and young who have been spending their days along the Nkwali road and then their nights feeding in camp. This is perfect timing – the dung is ideal for manure to prepare the vegetable beds!

Last Tuesday at sundown, Robin, Jo and myself hopped into the boat for a short trip up the river. It is fascinating to see how much the river level has dropped and with it taken quite a bit of bank. There are a number of places where the bank is overhanging the river, only held together by the roots of young Mopani trees – it will only be a matter of time before these too collapse into the water. Both upstream and down stream of Nkwali has lost bank – we have been very lucky to loose nothing at camp itself.

I am heading off for 3 weeks leave as of Wednesday this week so Jo and Jeffrey will keep you up to date with the goings on here as staff begin to return for the start of a new season. I am going back to Scotland for the wedding of two very close friends, to be held at Glenalmond College in Perthshire, where we all went to school together – I am looking forward to a weekend of friends, kilts, bagpipes and Scottish reeling – something I have not done for a long time! I then fly to Kenya where I will spend some time on the coast relaxing, diving, swimming and no doubt eating and drinking too much – perfect!

Have a great week!
Take Care
Jane

It’s Monday 19th and the Chucks Leave

Hello,
Jane is away for a Scottish and Kenyan break and so you have me again. – JO.

The garden last October - from the entrance A lovely Sunday – one of the last few before the season – when we really can take the day “off”. I spent the morning in the garden. I have my own bed which I call the Mediterranean Bed. It has rosemary, lavender, 2 types of basil, dill, lemon balm, coriander and chillie bushes all together giving you the smells and colours of the Med. It is right by the entrance so that when I walk in see and smell it immediately. I can then drop any stresses I am carrying!

Jeffery is back – after 5 weeks at home in Australia – obviously having had a wonderful time. Refreshed and ready to work. Always great to have the team slowly rebuild. Simon and Shanie are due tonight!

The chucks, in October 2000 The news of the week is the chucks all left – sold on so that we can rest the hen pen for 2 weeks before the next 50 arrive. So the 44 chucks were loaded into the back of a cruiser, a tarp tied over them, and off they went.

Robin said goodbye about five times – he was proud that they were still laying on average 35 eggs a day. Not bad after a year. I had been told that they only laid for 12 months and so I arranged for the next batch to arrive from Lusaka on 26 March. However, I have now read my booklet (I have to say for the first time in the year!) and they go on laying for another 3 months!!
Oh well, at least this way we will be in full production with the next lot for the busy Eclipse period of June.

The 'Jag' at Mfuwe Airport, Oct 2000 Since Basil left, Robin has been beavering away in the workshop – getting vehicles ready for the season, painting the gameviewing seats, sorting out the stores etc. He has also designed a new airport transfer vehicle. During a massive storm in December a huge branch fell right across the “Jag”. Called the Jag because, when new, it was our smart car. Bought in 1991 with a covered top, we were the first in the Valley and in fact one of the first in the country to import the new shaped landcruiser. Now seen everywhere. But the top of the Jag was seriously smashed in although the engine was fine. So after long discussions of what to do with the wreck, Robin has cut off the top, and after some panel beating and respraying, it is going to be a totally unique shape and very smart new airport vehicle. He is also “making” a compressor. He proudly showed me all the old parts that he is going to put together to do this and I have to say I am going to be very very impressed if it works.

Nick, a young Aussie, pitched up three weeks ago. He had sent his CV through and whilst I was away. On my return I contacted him to ask some more questions and he emailed that he was coming to Lusaka anyway. Four days later he phones and the next day is on a bus to Chipata. He manages to get a lift to Mfuwe and arrives at the “bus station” late – 10 at night. He then meets Wency – the husband of Celeste, who proceeds to drive him to Nkwali, and finds him a room at 11 – we are all sound asleep. He came for an interview! Well that is some initiative. So he has stayed and in return for his keep has been in charge of the jungle reclaiming program. We realised that over the years the growth has been edging into the camp, there are many new trees, the old trees are thick with branches. The camp was becoming rather dark and gloomy – without sunlight. Well Nick and his team have certainly changed that. Such a massive amount has been cleared and the views are all back! Wonderful.

So….I had better stop prattling on!
Have a lovely week, pick lots of daisies and take care
Jo

It’s Monday 26th and the Wartlet Oscars

Hello again from a finally sunny and very lovely Luangwa Valley. The rains are slowing down in the Valley although elsewhere it seems there is plenty. But we have had the blue blue skies, white clouds, the odd massive storm, spectacular sunsets of this time of year. We love April/May/June – fresh and clear.

The River The river is still high but it is dropping and the flood alert seems to be finally out – although you can never be too complacent here. As the river drops there is always a lot of bank collapsing and already the prominent sausage tree opposite camp on the other side of the river has toppled over. This was a favourite siesta spot for the dominant male leopard in that area and so we hope that he will find somewhere else still in view.

And as the rains recede the staff start to come back. Simon and Shanie arrived after a long drive up from Durban. They met last year here and are now firmly attached. During their leave they spent some time with Noodles and Jason who are working in a skiing chalet in France. Simon mentioned that on the drive up from Durban they passed through Tete on the Mozambique side of the Zambezi River. Simon has never seen this mighty river so full! It was quite a sight – a huge mass of water passing before them. Marcus (McCarccus) also flew in to start the season and is now busy helping out with camp building.

No oscars, no wartlets; Just 3 starlets from Nsefu Pans Staff from other camps around the Valley are also returning – a good excuse to get everyone together at Croc Farm on Friday night for a ‘pre-Oscars’ party! Punters were encouraged to wear something ‘Hollywood’ and the inaugural awards were announced – Mfuwe style! There were many categories and the votes were rigged but who cares – it was lots of fun! I was awarded “Stuntwoman of the Year” for my inspirational performance on the river falling out of a banana boat! The trophies came in the form of gingerbread pigs – Jeffrey thought they looked like baby warthogs and decided to name them the ‘The Wartlets’!!

The good weather this week was an opportunity for Matthew and Sara to join some friends on a picnic in the Park yesterday. After purchasing some fishing permits off they went to catch some trout! They fished in ‘the mushroom’ which is an island that they had to wade through the mud to get to!

Matthew was quite successful and caught three good sized trout and the remainder were cast back into the river to see another day. Sara managed to catch a few tree branches and was quite happy to give up and read a good book in the shade!

Wishing everybody a wonderful week ahead.
Love
JO

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